Duke, UNC and Gonzaga are March Madness Favorites
Long before the 2019 March Madness tournament kicked off bookies, analysts, and fans had already settled on a favorite team to not only make it to the final four but also take the trophy home: the Duke Blue Devils. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering the team’s performance during the regular season. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have challengers.
In line to take Duke’s position are Gonzaga and North Carolina. Here is a review of each team’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Duke Blue Devils
Duke is banking on its best player, Zion Williamson, to bring the trophy home now that he is well and back in the game. It seems ridiculous that a whole team can peg its hopes on a single player but this is the case.
Duke has been playing the regular season without Williamson, and it has not performed as well as it does with him onboard. The team went 3-3 in the last six games on the regular season and scored more than 80 points only once against the little-known Miami Hurricanes – this is a stark comparison to when the Blue Devils scored more than 80 points six times with Williamson onboard. This all changed when Williamson rejoined the team. He took charge on all three games and averaged 27 points on 76.7% percent shooting.
Considering these statistics it is understandable why Duke is banking on Williamson. His presence has ruffled some feathers, including in North Carolina’s Tar Heels. If he performs as expected he will be well on his way to being named the tournament’s MVP.
Gonzaga stands a pretty high chance of making it to the final four: 62% to be exact, according to BPI. The team has been ranked among the top 25 by the Associated Press for three weeks running now. They have also proven formidable against the Blue Devils having beaten them back in December during the regular season.
Gonzaga has several things going for it. For starters, it is considered the most balanced team for the 2019 season. It has four players that have scored in double figures in 22 of 23 games. It has also outshot 83 opponents out of 96 for the 2016-2017 season alone. It also ranks well when it comes to consistency, efficiency, and power. Most notably, however, it leads the nation in several fronts including shooting, assist-turnover ratio, scoring, and scoring margin.
Gonzaga, however, hasn’t been spotless as it lost two of three of its biggest games this season, one of them against another top contender: North Carolina.
North Carolina has been making headlines for all the right seasons, leading some to speculate that it will definitely make it to the final four and perhaps even beat the Blue Devils.
North Carolina has accomplished seven spotless wins for the 2019 regular season with an average of 72.9 points. It went head-to-head against Duke in the ACC semifinals and came out on top. It also has impressive statistics: it has an efficiency rating of 95.5 points per 100 possessions. It also doesn’t rely on one single player to bring the trophy home as is the case with Duke. However, it is lacking in defense as it ranks 42nd nationwide.
North Carolina seems pretty confident in its capabilities against the Duke Blue Devils so much so that head coach Roy Williams likened the Duke’s top player, Zion, to his 6-year-old son. This game will be definitely one to look out for.
If everything goes as expected the Duke Blue Devils will likely be taking home their sixth national title with Zion Williamson at the helm. However, Gonzaga and North Carolina will not be sitting by idly watching this happen, and North Carolina has already made moves against the Blue Devils. It is too early to tell and, besides, the best way to find out which team comes out on top is to stream March Madness 2019 live from anywhere in the world.